BILLINGS - Do you have the moves and groves to win the People's Choice Award in this year's Dancing with the Big Sky Stars competition?
The call for entries is now open for the 2021 event, which for the first time features a digital dance format.
"We're excited because it's a real fun and tangible way for families, friends and co-workers to get together and help make a difference in the lives of seniors in Billings," said Val Young, event coordinator for Big Sky Senior Services (BSSS) of Billings.
Last spring, when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual dance competition, BSSS lost its biggest fundraiser, which accounts for some 20 percent of the organization's annual budget. At the same time, the number of seniors who depend on BSSS for help with daily meals, medications, groceries and payee services has increased dramatically.
"COVID has really impacted the seniors that are living independently in a way that we just didn't anticipate," said Denise Armstrong, BSSS executive director. "Because of the longevity of this pandemic, seniors are lonely, they're isolated, and the demand for our services has increased dramatically."
Armstrong said the number of seniors who rely on BSSS has swelled to more than 350 in the Billings area, a 30 percent increase since the start of the pandemic.
Faced with its ongoing budget challenge, BSSS came up with the new digital dance competition to recharge its fundraising event and still comply with COVID-19 social distancing protocols.
The end result; Dancing with the Big Sky Stars - Community Edition, where dance teams film their routines and submit the video for judging and voting online.
"I think sponsors will get behind this," said Young. "We see it as a neat way to partner with a team. We can put sponsor logos on the t-shirts. You know the teams can do that and get creative. I'm hoping the sponsors will really join them."
Here's how the digital dance competition works. Form a dance team of three or more, find a sponsor (it costs $250 to enter), and register by March 22.
Each participating team selects a style of dance and music, creates a unique routine, and films the performance, and uploads the video to the BSSS website.
Teams compete in either the beginner or advanced categories, and will be judged on presentation, choreography, and execution. A panel of judges will award Best Overall Dance & Best Costume, while online voting ($5/ vote) will decide the People's Choice.
"Anybody can do it. You don't have to be a great dancer," said Armstrong. "You can create a routine and have fun with your co-workers, with family members, neighbors. We all have our special COVID groups, so reach out to them and let's all get together and dance and have a good time."
BSSS will compile and upload all dance recordings to its website on May 1. Voting for People’s Choice will continue through May 16.
The People’s Choice winner will be awarded to the team that raises the most money between sponsors and votes. The winners will be announced on the BSSS website and Facebook page on May 18.
The website also features a number of dance tutorial videos, to help teams get off on the right foot.
Learn all the details about Dancing with Big Sky Stars /Community Edition at www.bigskyseniorservices.org